With the ruins of Uxmal and Chichen Itza in the state of Yucatan, Mayapan often is overlooked. At sites such as Mayapan, you can enjoy the richness of the history and environment all to yourselves. Mayapan has a rich history. It is a haul from the Riviera Maya, so plan on staying in Yucatan a night or two and fully enjoy the culture, food and surroundings of the area.
Mayapan, meaning Banner of the Mayas, is considered the last great Maya capital, dating back to the beginning of the common Era and reaching its golden age in the Postclassic period. It is believed that this city once had a population of 12,000 inhabitants. King Kukulkan II of Chichen Itza founded Mayapan between 1263 and 1283 AD. After his death, the aggresive Cocoom family obtained power and used Mayapan as a base to conquer northern Yucatan. They succeeded by using Tabascan mercenaries as their army and intermarrying with other powerful families. The Cocoom ruled for 250 years until 1441-1461 AD when a Xiu family based in Uxmal slaughtered the Cocoom.
Mayapan’s ancient magnificence is still evident in its buildings. The architectural influence from Chichen Itza is evident, especially in main building, which is a smaller replica of the Castillo of Kukulcan. The main square is bordered by government, administrative, religious and ruling class buildings. Visitors will see temples and oratories, an altar at the back and benches along the sides. “Observatories”, round buildings built by the Mayans, are seen on this ruin site.
The painted murals, which are still visible, are similar to the style used in the codices of the post classic period. The murals show scenes of war and events related to the death cult, evidence of cultural links to the high plains of central Mexico.
Although it is believed that Mayapan formed a triple alliance with Uxmal and Chichen Itza, recent archaeological excavations indicate that these two last cities actually flourished well before Mayapan. What does appear true is that Mayapan had a centralized form of government similar to Chichen Itza.
Mayapan continued to prosper between 1250 and 1450. The mid 1400′s marked the end of the city when Mayapan was overthrown and nearly destroyed. Later in the century, Mayapan was destroyed, burned and abandoned. As more research and investigations are carried out in this area it is becoming increasingly clear that this city was even more important than had been previously thought.